The undergraduate major and the graduate certificate program take an interdisciplinary approach in their exploration of womenâ€™s lives and histories and the role that ideas about sexual differences and sexual identities have played in human societies. Areas of inquiry include womenâ€™s participation in social and cultural production; the construction of heteronormative gender and sexuality as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities; the relationship between ideas about gender and concepts inherent in other social, political, and legal structures; and the implications of feminist and sexuality studies for philosophical and epistemological traditions. Students acquire an understanding of how adopting gender as a significant category of analysis challenges existing disciplines. They gain proficiency in the methods used to study and compare cultural constructions of gender and sexuality, and they become familiar with the ongoing fundamental debates in womenâ€™s, gender, and sexuality studies.
The undergraduate minor follows the capabilities approach to understanding development and poverty.Â The capabilities approach considers what people are able to do and be â€“ for example, live to old age and engage in economic and political activities â€“ rather than strictly what material goods they possess. The program also acknowledges the central importance of a variety of additional influences on well-being beyond income, such as gender, racial and ethnic disparities, health status, education, human rights, political freedoms, and material necessities like food and shelter.Â A key goal of the minor is to enrich studentsâ€™ understanding of poverty and inequality so that, regardless of their choice of occupation, they will maintain a longstanding commitment to enhancing the well-being of all people. More generally, the program trains students to be leaders in solving global problems.